Toronto’s Water Department is responsible for $28 Billion of assets that govern production and distribution of clean water together with handling water waste across Toronto. In 2012, 1500 staff were deployed on land and water to manage the clean and waste water activities. Various provincial legislations set the standards of performance. The Fire Prevention and Safety Act is one such legislation that provided some of the impetus for change. Alex Marich was managing the organization and the continuous improvement effort that has delivered 20% productivity increase since 1996. Rob Lash, Manager of Work Optimization, was tasked with standardizing the work process associated with asset maintenance, starting with Water Hydrants.
The work-order distribution and reporting processes were generally paper-based, requiring manual document distribution and completion. It was conducted by specially allocated staff and administrative clerks entering the data into the InForHansen ‘Work Management System’. Both the Ontario Fire Protection & Prevention Act and the city’s Insurers require process validation, however proving compliance and consistency using solely the paper processes was difficult.
The existing Citrix online approach was discarded because connectivity wasn’t always available and the in-truck access still required duplicate entry from paper into the InForHansen system. The ‘always connected’ requirement was costly and didn’t deliver the efficiency that was anticipated. It was also felt that a flexible mobile solution could be adjusted to changing work requirements, rather than having to change their InForHansen system, necessary for the ‘always online’ approach. Rob Lash had been introduced to the concept of a mobile platform through Toronto’s Children and Youth Services Division. The RFP (Request for Proposal) was written with the future requirements and functional adaptability in mind.
Glenn Gerard was tasked to deliver a mobile solution that satisfied the Water Hydrant asset management for four divisions while improving work processes and data reliability. Researching different solutions, Glen quickly recognized the optimal flexibility of the FieldWorker platform and its ability to incorporate other business requirements and associated work processes.
The primary RFP requirement was to push down asset data (water hydrants) for inspection, location (GPS) and asset condition. The secondary work process was geared towards establishing a “flow rate” of various hydrants throughout the winter and summer seasons. This information provided for the colour coding (painting) of valve covers to visually assist fire fighters.
With FieldWorker, instead of receiving “hydrant status reports” electronically, the Fire Department gained a simple process of accessing a web portal that is managed by the Water Department. A validation requirement was put in place for the Water Hydrant asset management work. Now, the assets being inspected and ‘flow-certified’ can be confirmed for the GPS location parameters delivered by the GIS system, together with validating both the location and condition on the date of inspection. Additionally, a CSR (Customer Service Report) application was inserted into SOW, whereby any water department employee could initiate a work-order from happenstance observation.
More data (such as local history and criticality of assets) is now available to the in-field staff, improving awareness. Work needs to be captured by the user only once, eliminating work duplication, network dependency and associated costs. These work processes are now standard across the department and the gathered field data is accountable and dependable. Internal capabilities using this technology allows the Toronto IT staff to adapt existing applications or deploy self-configured ones to accommodate changing needs. The organization can now extend this technology across other departments, as this platform is housed in their shared services IT department.